As farm bill becomes law, COOL concerns continue
American Meat Institute
With the bulk of the Farm Bill becoming law last week, mandatory country-of-origin labeling (sometimes referred to as COOL or COL) will finally become a reality. And among the concerns that the U.S. beef industry has is possible retaliation from Mexico if the new labels dull U.S. taste buds to beef from Mexican cattle.
“There is a possibility the market might somehow discount those products with lower pricing or consumers won’t want to buy them. Then Mexico might somehow want to retaliate against U.S. beef, and that would be a tragedy,” warned U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Regional Director for Mexico Chad Russell on a teleconference last week.
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High Corn Prices and the Economics of Creep Feeding and Early Weaning
Beef Quality Connection
The economics of feeding grain-based supplements to nursing calves has long been a subject of debate among cow-calf producers. Now, high grain prices lend more fuel to the naysayers’ argument. Providing creep feed to boost weaning weights becomes harder to justify, particularly if predictions for lower calf prices prove accurate.
It was easier to argue in favor of creep feeding when a ration could be built with grain costing 5 or 6 cents per pound and a 550-pound steer calf fetched $1.30 per pound. Things are different now. However, Ohio State University animal Scientist Francis Fluharty says creep feeding calves might still work for some producers.
Fishin’ for Koreans
Beef Today Blog
This Korean beef trade thing—see the Tuesday morning AP dispatch — is like watching your bobber while a turtle eats your bait. Yes, it’s a bite! No, it’s not a bite! No wait, maybe it is a bite.
What do you think we should do about it? We have a signed deal in hand that says the Koreans will import beef, including beef over 30 months of age. The scientists say it’s safe. Our own people eat it daily. There is no reason for the Koreans to spurn U.S. beef.
But President Lee, newly-elected and obviously inclined toward friendship with the U.S., has buckled under the pressure of protestors. We’ve got a Free Trade Agreement, that Mr. Lee wisely supports, on hold, but the Senators who represent beef country are firm in their intent to stop it if the beef thing isn’t resolved.
So what do you think we should do about it?
Voluntary Standards for a Forage-Fed Livestock Marketing Claim
Dr. Mark Wahlberg, Extension Livestock Specialist, VA Tech
Following is copied from the Federal Register in which the voluntary standards for forage-fed livestock marketing claim is described. The voluntary part of the claim means that the standards are available for use by producers if they choose to do so. It is optional. These standards went into effect in October of 2007.
The production methods that qualify for the Grass (Forage) Fed label do not allow any grain feeding, including grain that may be a component of a harvested feed (such as grain-crop silage). However, it is not prohibited to use any health-care products, such as dewormers or antibiotics. Notice the terminology is not “Pasture-Fed”, therefore the Grass (Forage) Fed animals may be fed harvested forages outside of the normal growing season.
Q&A: Can you tell me something more about the disturbances in ovulation in beef cows?
Dr. Rick Rasby, Professor of Animal Science, University of Nebraska
Q: Can you tell me something more about the disturbances in ovulation in beef cows?
A: Beef cows usually have a 21 day estrous cycle with day 0 being the first day of the cycle and day 21 being the day of ovualtion. There are a number of items that can disrupt the 21 day cycle. Cows after calving will typically not cycle for 50 to 55 days after calving. During that time they are repairing their reproductive tract for another pregnancy.
The After Effects of Mandatory COOL
With a new farm bill now on the books, USDA soon should be rolling out all of the important info on mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) so that producers can begin preparing for the implementation data. While important, deadlines and details probably aren’t what most producers are really curious to know, however.
According to Troy Marshall of Beef magazine The most obvious question is: “Will mandatory COOL decrease the importation of beef from foreign countries?” That’s primarily feeder cattle from Mexico and fed cattle from Canada.
Certainly, in the short term, he writes, as nobody wants to be holding inventory if that inventory might be devalued, but I’ve had trouble with the cause and effect for quite some time.
Drylot Feeding For Beef Cows
Conventional wisdom tells us that low-cost cow/calf operations are frequently characterized by minimal use of harvested feedstuffs. Letting cows harvest more of their own feed, through combinations of warm- and cool-season pastures, annual forage crops, and extensive utilization of field crop residues or stockpiled grass, can typically result in significant savings in the total feed bill.
On the other hand, successful cattle producers are becoming increasingly aware that profitability can hinge on their ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions, and a willingness to think ‘out of the box’ when necessary. For cow/calf operators, a serious evaluation of feeding options can sometimes call for an extreme shift away from a grazing-intense program. In fact, the industry is seeing a limited, but definitely increasing, number of producers feeding a winter drylot ration to their cows. This may be due to the current availability or price of different feeds, or a need or desire to get the cows off the pasture and/or closer to home. And this year, we will see a lot of animals forced in off their traditional grazing areas due to the drought.
UNL Research Focuses on Predicting Steaks’ Tenderness
University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists have developed a way to predict steak tenderness before the consumer takes that first bite. The technology could be a boon to the beef industry as it would allow retailers to charge a premium for a “guaranteed tender” label.
“Beef tenderness is a primary factor in consumer satisfaction,” said Jeyamkondan Subbiah, the UNL food engineer who heads the research. “However, a sufficiently accurate, nondestructive method of on-line evaluation of tenderness continues to elude the beef industry.”
Current U.S. Department of Agriculture grading standards classify beef carcasses into quality and yield grades but do not assess tenderness. Since carcasses are not priced on the basis of tenderness, producers don’t have a financial incentive to supply a tender product.
USDA Renews AngusSource Program
AngusSource®, the American Angus Association®’s Process Verified Program (PVP), was renewed May 1, 2008, by USDA for one year. AngusSource has been the industry leader in qualifying Angus genetic-, age- and source-verified cattle since 2005 and continues to drive the beef industry toward quantifying true Angus genetics.
The program continues to show steady growth. March 2008 was the top enrollment month, qualifying 14,107 head for AngusSource, and charting a 21.7 percent year-to-date increase in cattle enrolled.
Those grass-fed beef dogs originate at Hearst Ranch
The growing consumer interest in free-range meat is showing up on fast-food hot dog stands statewide
It’s been said that hot dogs — like laws—are something you never want to see being made.
But Steve Elzer is glad to know what goes into the wieners he buys from a new hot dog stand near his office—100 percent grass-fed beef raised on the sunny, wind-swept pastures of the Hearst Ranch in northwestern San Luis Obispo County.
“I love the feel, the taste, the pedigree that this meat is free-range,” the 46-year-old movie publicist said between bites at the chrome and ketchup-red Let’s Be Frank stand.
US plays down growing spat over beef imports with South Korea
The United States is playing down South Korea’s apparent reluctance to move forward with a deal resuming the import of U.S. beef.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey says South Korea has “issues within their system that they need to work through. We respect that.”
Grassley seeks help from USDA for farms hurt by feed costs
Des Moines Register
Sen. Charles Grassley, who has argued that soaring corn prices were being unfairly blamed for higher food costs, is now seeking government help for livestock producers who have been hit directly by grain prices.
The Iowa Republican called on the U.S. Agriculture Department to use two market development programs to promote sales of beef and pork overseas.
USDA already has taken some steps to help livestock producers cope with the rising price of corn for feed, including allowing landowners to use grass on acreage idled in the Conservation Reserve Program for hay or grazing.
But Grassley said he heard concerns in Iowa last week that independent pork producers were being forced out of business.
Better cattle management needed when fertilization cut
High Plains Journal
Because of the skyrocketing cost of fertilizer this spring, many cattle producers are cutting back on fertilizer rates on pastures and hayfields.
“Producers need to evaluate their pasture stocking rate if they drastically cut back on fertilizer application,” advises Dr. John Jennings, extension forage specialist for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
Producers who normally apply little if any fertilizer to pastures may see little effect, he said, but those producers who have found fertilization necessary to maintain enough forage for their herds need to improve grazing management to avoid severe pasture shortages and long-term damage from overgrazing.
Byproduct Supplements Affect Stocker Cattle Performance
Byproducts of industrial grain and oilseed processing have become increasingly popular as supplements in cattle diets. Many of these feeds have found utility in feedlot finishing rations and in grow-yard mixed rations. Some stocker and cow/calf producers have also now begun feeding these byproducts to grazing cattle. However, little is known about how different byproducts affect cattle gain on forage diets. Therefore, an experiment was conducted at the Noble Foundation to compare five byproducts as supplements for growing beef steers.
Correcting the Ethanol Mistake
The Heartland Institute
In April, Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked the Environmental Protection Agency for a one-year reprieve on the national standard aimed at increasing ethanol use across the country. Currently, the federal government requires that 9 billion gallons of ethanol be added to the fuel supply nationwide.
While the advocates of corn ethanol as a fuel additive may say it has economic and environmental benefits, research shows ethanol is not the marvel it’s made out to be.
The use of corn for fuel leaves cattle ranchers and poultry producers competing against oil companies for the coveted grain. Texas’s cattle and beef industries have suffered from the current push for corn ethanol: The cost of feed for cattle has tripled since 2004. This year alone, ethanol will cost the state of Texas $3.6 million.